Abites, I'm really conflicted by this book. I actually nearly gave up on it at about a third of the way through, but I persevered and got all the way through. It is getting some really high praise and in some ways I can see why. My feelings about it aren't quite as favorable, however.
I loved the premise of the story. There are parallel worlds and a giant Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) has shattered the walls between the worlds - you can now travel through Marks (gateways) into the Second Realm - a magical parallel world next to ours.
But the EMP also caused an apocalypse, and our world is no longer the world it used to be. Governments have fallen, poverty is rampant, and there is no law. It's every man for himself - a prepper's dream.
Esa's parents disappeared in the aftermath of the Pulse when she was just a small child and she's been on her own ever since. Now here's where I begin to have problems - we have no idea how old Esa is in this book - she could be anywhere between 12 and 30.
She's been through hell and back trying to survive on her own and doesn't trust anyone. Normally, I would feel a lot of empathy for a character like that, yet somehow I never really feel like we get to know Esa - I don't feel like I ever get into her head. Maybe if the author had spent a little more time on her backstory that might have changed my feelings - I'm not certain. All I know is that I never connected with Esa.
This book has all the elements that a great fantasy novel needs - it has a war, danger, power struggles, friendships, and magic - but somehow for me it fell short. It was both really well written, and at the same time oddly written. Some of the phrasing is really beautiful. Some of the descriptions are really well done, and yet some of the descriptions are really lacking.
There was a section where Esa had gotten her butt kicked and was quite injured - she is prone to fainting when in physical distress - and the author said she "collapsed" next to Rootu, yet in this case she didn't mean she "collapsed" as in she physically lost control of her body. She meant that she plopped to the ground next to Rootu. I found it confusing. There were some fighting scenes where Thomas (a friend of Esa) was said to be on the floor, yet then he was kicked and fell to the floor. I again found it confusing.
Some scenes end abruptly leaving you wondering what happened. It felt a bit disjointed because of that. The story's setting is England, and yet for over half the book we have no clue that this is the case except for the abundant use of the word "jumper". In fact, we don't figure that out until Esa finds herself in France.
There is a lot of dialogue in the book, yet it doesn't feel natural to me (and that isn't because it is written for a British audience, because I read a lot of British fiction) and the characters never actually communicate. I suspect the lack of communication is designed to be enigmatic and build mystery, but it just doesn't work for me.
The story is good, although it ended abruptly as well - I'm guessing that means there is a sequel coming. There is a lot to love about this book - but I just didn't. I think Pulse could be really great, but it needs a bit more work.
Have you read any books that had fantastic potential but just didn't quite measure up for you? Which ones and why?
She looked into their non-existent faces and felt them smile in anticipation.
light is fading fast and Esa must find shelter before the deviants come
crawling out of the woodwork. From the moment she steps into the
darkened room her life takes a terrifying turn and she is pulled away
from her post apocalyptic world.
With a horde of goblins close on
her heels, she enters a magical realm in search of answers. Why can she
sense magic and why is a powerful sorcerer determined to end her life?
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